Are you looking to send money from the United States but can’t seem to find a money transfer platform that won’t break the bank? (Hope you’re not considering PayPal).
For this guide, we’ve reviewed over 10 money transfer services, simulated transfers to 23 countries across 6 continents, and narrowed down our selection to 5 cheapest services, depending on your transfer destination, amount, and desired transfer speed.
Is it possible to send money from the US for free or almost for free?
Although the cost of international money transfers has decreased significantly in recent years, it is still not possible to transfer funds overseas without incurring fees in nearly all cases. Even with services such as OFX that offer fee-free transfers on transactions of AUD$ 10,000+, there’s still a markup on the exchange rate to consider.
Occasionally, some individuals may have the chance to send money abroad free of charge, but these offers are typically promotional and restricted to new customers.
What is an international money transfer and how does it work?
An international money transfer is a process of sending money between countries or across different currencies. These transfers allow people to send money to family and friends overseas, pay for services or goods purchased abroad, or conduct business transactions in different currencies.
When you send money internationally, you’ll typically incur fees from both the sending and receiving banks or money transfer companies. These fees can include a flat rate for the transfer, as well as an exchange rate fee, which is the difference between the actual exchange rate and the rate used by the bank or transfer company.
Banks and money transfer companies often apply a markup to the exchange rate to make a profit, which can result in a less favorable rate for the customer.
Banks typically charge higher fees for international money transfers, while specialized money transfer companies, such as Wise or Xoom, offer lower fees and better exchange rates. However, it’s important to note that some of these companies may have a transfer limit and they may require additional information or documentation to complete the transfer.
See our article Cheapest International Transfers.
Top Cheapest Options
- Wise – best for low-cost international transfers
- Instarem – best for fee-free payments in the U.S. and InstaPoints on transfers
- OFX – best exchange rates for large transfers
- XE – best for transfer speed and availability
- Xoom – best for the variety of transfer and receiving options
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is a financial technology company that provides international money transfer services. It was founded in 2011 and operates in more than 77 countries with the ability to manage over 50 currencies with its multi-currency account.
- Transparent fees with no hidden expenses.
- 80% of Wise transactions are delivered within 24 hours, with 40% being instant.
- Wise offers multilingual customer support online, in-app, and over the phone.
- Costs and restrictions vary depending on the destination country.
- Doesn’t support cryptocurrency, FX, and CFDs.
- No cash payment or delivery options.
See our review of Wise.
Instarem, established in 2014, is a Singaporean money transfer service that facilitates international fund transfers for both individuals and businesses. The service is currently accessible in more than 55 countries worldwide.
A distinctive feature of Instarem is that it allows U.S. customers to make free transfers, as long as the currency is in USD. However, if the funds are sent from a bank account, a fee of 1% of the total transfer amount may apply.
- Competitive rates and no hidden fees.
- Provides fast and secure money transfers.
- Strong verification process.
- Users earn reward points for sending money.
- Charges a markup on exchange rates.
- No multi-currency accounts.
- The Instarem card is exclusively available to users in Singapore.
- No physical branch network.
See our review of Instarem.
OFX has established offices in major global cities such as London, Dublin, Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto, and San Francisco. The company has successfully catered to the payment transfer needs of more than a million customers, enabling them to transfer funds to over 170 countries. Their services have facilitated the transfer of more than $200 billion across 50 different currencies worldwide.
- Fast transfer speeds.
- No maximum transfer limit.
- Recurring and one-time transfers
- Excellent customer service.
- Cash and credit card options are not available.
- High $1,000 minimum transfer requirement.
See our review of OFX.
XE was founded in 1993 as a basic currency converter tool and has since grown into one of the most popular and trusted sources of foreign exchange information globally. XE provides real-time exchange rates, historical charts, currency news, and analysis to individuals and businesses around the world. The company also offers other features such as currency data APIs for businesses.
- $500,000 transfer limit.
- XE offers its app in 11 languages.
- Wide coverage of 180 currencies
- Some services are limited to specific countries; for instance, card payments are only available to customers in the US, UK, and Europe.
- No cash pickup options.
See our review of XE.
Xoom is an electronic money transfer company that was established in March 2001 and later acquired by PayPal in November 2015. This platform offers users the ability to send funds to friends and family members in more than 160 countries around the world. As of now, Xoom has served over 250 million customers worldwide.
- Recipients don’t need to be Xoom users.
- Provides a secure platform for money transfers.
- Worldwide availability
- Costly exchange rates.
- Some users experience money transfer delays.
See our review of Xoom.
Cheapest option to Europe
The cheapest option depends on the amount of money you want to send, the currency, the exchange rate, and the speed of the transfer.
Wise is a popular online money transfer service that offers low fees and competitive exchange rates. They charge a small fee based on the amount you are sending, and the exchange rate is the mid-market rate, which is very close to the competitive rate used between banks. Wise charges 0.5%-1% of the amount if the transfer is made in a different currency.
See our article Cheapest Transfer to Europe.
Cheapest option to Africa
WorldRemit is an excellent choice for those who require a straightforward means of sending money to Africa. The company provides a broad selection of transfer alternatives, such as bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money, and airtime top-up, offering recipients flexible options to access funds based on their preferences.
Moreover, WorldRemit’s competitive fees and transparent exchange rates make it an affordable choice for international money transfers. For US customers, WorldRemit charges a flat fee ranging from $1.99 – $4.99.
See our review of WorldRemit.
Cheapest option to Asia-Pacific
For Asia-Pacific, Instarem is among the cheapest option for money transfers, since it is based in Singapore. If you’re sending money From the US in dollars, you’ll be charged a fee of 0.25% – 1%.
Cheapest option to South America
Wise is a good option to send money to South Africa cheaply. The fee is between 0.5% and 1% of the entire amount you’re transferring.
Sending and receiving money from the US can be expensive, but there are plenty of affordable options available if you know where to look.
From free peer-to-peer payment apps to specialized money transfer companies, there are many ways to send and receive money internationally without breaking the bank.
Wise is often one of the cheapest services to send money from the US. However, when it comes to particularly large amounts of money, OFX is the preferred option as it doesn’t charge a fee for transactions over AUD 10,000.
How We Chose the Cheapest International Money Transfer?
We chose the cheapest international money transfer services based on the following criteria:
– Exchange rates – Do they use the more competitive mid-market rate and what do they add as a markup on top of the rate?
– Fees – What are the fees for users and how do they vary depending on the amount, currency, and destination?
– Payment options – How many payment options are available and how do the costs vary depending on the chosen payment method?
What are the best new-customer discounts?
If you have been referred to Wise by an existing user, you will be eligible for a discount on your first transfer. This discount will either remove or reduce the fee for your initial transaction. The discount is automatically added to your account.
Western Union allows new users to make their first transfer for free.
What is the fastest option to Transfer Money Internationally?
Wise provides fast direct bank transfer speeds with most international transfers being delivered within 24 hours. Many transfers are completed in just seconds, depending on the currency route. Other transfers are typically completed within 1-2 days.
Remitly also offers an Express delivery option which involves an additional fee. This enables international transfers to be completed within minutes. However, the transfer speed may vary depending on bank processing times and the destination country.
What is the Best International Money Transfer app?
Wise stands out as one of the most cost-effective apps available. Its fees are low, and it applies the mid-market exchange rate without any additional markups, making it more affordable than many other money transfer services. Its fees are transparent and always provided in a clear breakdown of costs on the app before you process a transfer.
The app also lets you manage 50+ currencies and integrates with both Google and Apple pay.